Sometimes as a parent the best thing you can do is just watch. Take a step back and not always lead the play. Just be there and watch. It is so beautiful and makes me so proud just watching my children. Sometimes I watch them quietly playing, or engrossed in a dvd or splashing in the bath. Even the simplicity of watching them eat makes me smile so much. I’ve loved watching them and looking at them and savouring every minute of their presence since the moment I set eyes on them over 4 years ago now. I watch them and cry. Watch them and smile. Watch them and feel so utterly blessed. Watch them with pride and joy. And sometimes watch a miracle unfold right in front of my eyes.
By just watching I saw Isaac do something utterly amazing last Sunday.
I had taken the children along to a church service and brought with us the usual loads of toys, snacks, nappies, wipes, in fact pretty much everything two 4 year olds could possible need for a few hours. Including the portable dvd player! I set up a space at the side and set up their beloved Peppa Pig dvd playing very low and spread some toys out before them. I was enjoying the church but was also carefully watching my children too. Some of the toys were related to Peppa Pig as Naomi likes to often reenact parts of the dvd in her play. Pretty normal four year old stuff. But Isaac has classic autism. He is nonverbal and has severe learning difficulties and global developmental delay. He is more like 2 than 4 and a half. He normally eats Naomi’s Peppa Pig figures or scans the toys across his eye line. But as I stood watching him that Sunday evening he picked up a few figures and used one to pretend to climb the stairs of a toy slide and then slid the figure down the slide. He then repeated it a few times with some of the other figures. I wanted to scream from the highest rooftop I could find. I wanted to dance with joy. I had just watched my child for the first time ever in his life use a toy appropriately! He knew the toy represented a slide and he knew what the figures were supposed to do. He had watched clips of them doing it so often on his dvd, he had even used a slide many times himself but up until that moment he had never reenacted anything he had seen before or used a toy for it’s intended purpose. His special moment lasted barely a minute before he started to once again chew the slide and figures. He hasn’t suddenly discovered how to use all his toys for their intended purpose or stopped chewing and biting everything he sees but I watched him do something amazing and I will keep watching him and encouraging him and playing with him until I see things like this more often. I’m watching out for more progress.
Naomi doesn’t like to be watched though so I sometimes have to be sneaky. She is incredibly self conscious and has a sensitive nature. She gets distressed if I watch her make a mistake. I would love to watch her reading books to herself and retelling stories we have read together at bedtime so often. But she freezes up and gets distressed at this so I watch from a distance and enjoy hearing her voice from afar or listening to her through the baby monitor. She has the sweetest voice and is such a natural storyteller.
But Naomi gets great enjoyment from watching other people. Her nursery comment regularly that rather than join in activities she prefers to stand aside and watch. She learns so much from watching others at play, watching the teachers explaining things and watching others join in games. Social interaction of any sort is a real struggle for her and she needs that time to watch how others play together to learn the social skills that other children gain so naturally. She loves watching people. But then again so do I.
I love watching other parents fighting for their children and winning battles. I love watching parents just enjoying their children and grandchildren at parks and swimming and soft plays and having fun. I love watching children laughing, joking and playing in the warm sunshine. I love seeing couples so in love strolling hand in hand. I love seeing older people sitting on park benches remembering precious memories. I love watching mums with their young babies, fathers kicking balls with their sons, neighbours talking to each other over fences. I love seeing people happy. I enjoy just watching.
I am getting so much comfort from the fact God is watching me too. He loves watching me and savouring every moment of my presence the exact same as I do with my children. He watches over me and cries. He watches over me and smiles. He watches over me with pride and joy. He watches me to teach me and instruct me. He loves watching me because I am his child and he loves me. Like I am with my children he just loves to watch me and listen out for me.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” Psalm 34:15